At many law firms, client intake is a disjointed and unorganized process consisting of a combination of phone calls, meetings, emails, handwritten notes, intake forms, and PDF documents. As law firms scale up and take on more client volume, this disorder becomes increasingly difficult to manage. Staff members end up wasting time and client conversion rates suffer. In order to continue growing, it’s critical that you implement better, more organized processes. This is where Lexicata’s matter pipeline feature comes into play. In this post, we’ll show you how to organize your client intake process with Lexicata’s matter pipeline.
Step 1: Design Your Workflow
The first step of the process is to design your workflow. But don’t just think it through in your head. It’s best to take the time to actually write it down or draw it out on a flow chart. This exercise will require some thought, but if done well, you’ll save time and avoid hassle later.
Your objective is to thoroughly map out the process, from A to Z. Each step in the workflow should end with a specific goal. Here are some examples:
Begin with the initial contact between you and a potential client. How does this usually occur? Via phone? Email introduction? Through your website? Some combination of these? The goal here is simple: make contact with potential clients, however possible (e.g. through marketing, referrals, lead gen, etc.). Write down your specific client acquisition methods as step one.
What happens next? Do you call the person? Do you email them? Does your secretary call or email them? What is discussed in this exchange? Do you set an appointment to meet in person? Or on the phone? Map out the initial exchange, including what information is collected, and what the main objective is – often it is setting an appointment or initial consultation.
Next up, consider how you gather information from the client. Do you take down all the information on the initial call? Send them an intake form to fill out before the consultation? Ask all the questions during the consultation? Some combination of these? Think about exactly what information you want to capture at each step, and what method you’d like to use to collect this information. The objective is to gather enough info to get to the final step, which ideally will be retention, or potentially turning the client away if the case is not right.
Finally, think about your retention process. How do most clients sign an engagement agreement? Do they do it in the office? Do you send them a PDF via email? Do you print it out and snail mail it to them? The objective here is simply to get them to sign, however possible. We recommend using e-signatures to improve your conversions.
Step 2: Create Your Matter Statuses
With your intake workflow mapped out, the next step is to begin building this process in Lexicata. The actual work required for this step is incredibly easy. But the challenge is deciding which specific steps or objectives from your process roadmap should have their own “matter status” in the database.
A “matter status” in Lexicata is basically just what it sounds like – a setting that can be applied to a given matter in order to categorize it, or indicate its current progress. The status can be updated many times, either by using a simple dropdown menu, or by dragging and dropping on the pipeline view, as explained below. You will want to update the matter status frequently as new developments take place in the workflow.
Go to Settings > Matters in order to create your own custom matter statuses, as shown below.
As you can see from the list above, each matter status corresponds to a different objective or step in the process that was mapped out in step 1. It’s important to have a comprehensive list to cover all the different scenarios that may arise.
For example, if someone doesn’t schedule an appointment during the initial contact phase, you can mark them as “Call to Follow Up” to remind you to do so. Otherwise, they may skip over that step and go straight to “Consult Scheduled.”
To create a new status, just input a name, and choose “Intake” as the category (this indicates it will be used for potential matters, as opposed to those where you have already been hired or not hired).
Step 3: Drag and Drop to Organize Your Pipeline
Once you have your matter statuses set up, the next step is to start using them to organize your intake process! The Lexicata matter pipeline uses the popular kanban style workflows. Kanban is an extremely easy-to-use and effective project management method. Here’s how it works:
Each column on the pipeline corresponds to one of your matter statuses. On each column will be a list of all matters that are currently at that step of the process.
The columns are typically organized from left to right, in sequential order.
You can update the current status of a matter by simply dragging and dropping a card from one column to the next!
When you’re finally hired (or not hired), you can click the little icons to remove the matter from your intake pipeline.
When you click to mark a matter as “Hired,” you’ll have the opportunity to select the new matter status within your “Hired” category, as shown below. Doing this would remove the matter from your “Intake” pipeline (i.e. potential matters), and send it to your “Hired” pipeline (i.e. billable matters).
Creating this detailed of a process would be difficult to do without the help of software, and that’s why we highly recommend adopting some type of lead management system, in addition to your typical case management software.
As you can see, Lexicata has been designed specifically for a law firm’s needs, enabling you to create customized workflows that are flexible enough to adapt to your existing process. Using the Lexicata matter pipeline can significantly improve your organization during the client intake process, so we recommend spending some time setting this up.
And of course, if you aren’t currently a Lexicata user, please feel free to schedule a demo to learn how Lexicata can help your firm!